Tuesday, December 11, 2007

2007 Review: Wide Receiver

2007 was an up and down year for the Notre Dame receiving corps. There were flashes of excitement surrounded by too much inconsistency, too many lapses in concentration, and too many drops. While this group took strides to improve as the year progressed, I don't feel they ever attained the level of consistency that the Irish will need moving forward. Speaking of the group as a whole, one of the biggest disappointments I had was the poor technique and inconsistent effort I saw blocking in the run game. This must improve. I was also very disappointed with the consistently poor routes some guys ran. There is no excuse, for example, on 3rd and 7 for running a 6 yard route. You simply have to be smarter and more disciplined than that to compete at this level. That must improve as well. Here are my thoughts on some of the individual players who saw time at WR this year:

Duval Kamara: Duval was, by the end of the season, the best WR on the ND roster. It wasn't close. He also displayed excellent chemistry with Jimmy Clausen. Duval is going to be a big-time player at ND before he is through. His combination of size and hands makes him a true threat. I don't think Duval has the speed to burn past people, but he is going to make some big plays down the field just using his size and hands. Like every young WR with Duval's size, he really needs to work on being quicker and more decisive coming out of his breaks and consistently using his size to position his body to shield defenders from the ball. Overall, though, the future is exceptionally bright for Duval.

David Grimes: I like David. However, I think he was miscast on this ND team. As the season began, the Irish tried to make David a #1 receiver, and I don't think he fits that role. David is a small guy who has solid hands (though he suffered terribly from drops toward the end of the season) , but he does not have the speed to be a deep threat nor the size to work the sidelines or go over the middle. On a good football team, David is a #3 WR, surrounded by 2 bigger, quicker guys. This would free him up to make plays underneath the defense, especially working in the soft spots against a zone defense.

Robbie Parris: Robbie confuses me, he really does. I want to give him the benefit of the doubt because he showed some genuine flashes this year and he is just a sophomore, but Robbie is a perfect example of a guy who better step up this offseason and put it together in the spring because he could be anywhere from the #2 WR on next year's team to the forgotten man passed by a guy like Mike Floyd. At times this season, Robbie showed that he could be the next Jeff Samardzija, making plays down the field, in traffic, and in the end zone. At other times, he seemed to float through games where you wondered where the heck his head was at because it certainly wasn't in the game. This manifested itself in his disappearing for many games and in the large number of drops he had this year. He has to become more consistent. He has to be a guy Jimmy and the coaches can count on game in and game out, play in and play out. From a skill standpoint, there is no question Robbie can play. He needs to improve his route running like everyone else, but the biggest area he needs to improve is using his body for position. While Duval is able to do this at times, though inconsistently, Robbie rarely showed this. Robbie Parris can be a critical member of the Irish offense next year because he is a great fit for this offense, but he really needs to put it together this offseason.

George West: I think George is very similar to David Grimes, and therefore I have many of the same comments, but I think George possesses more natural ability than David does. I think George's biggest issue is that David is already occupying the niche that George could occupy. Therefore, I think George is going to have to push David out with his play in order to win more playing time and see more balls thrown his way. On a side note, I am very excited to see what George could do as the replacement for Tom Zbikowski as punt returner. His ability as a return man on special teams really stood out to me from what I remember of his high school film.

Golden Tate: Seemingly every Irish fan's favorite player -- the next Rocket, the next Tim Brown, etc. Bottom line is Golden is an explosive athlete, capable of making big plays. He is a talent the Irish don't currently have among any of their other WRs, as I believe he is the only true burner among the WRs. However, he was in no way ready to be an every down WR this year. yes, he made some spectacular plays, particularly early in the season. But what happened after that? Teams are not stupid. They adjusted and Golden's big plays down the field went away. I think the coaching staff needed to do a better job getting Golden integrated into the offense, and I think Golden needed to learn an awful lot about the nuances of the position. The one criticism I have of the coaching staff here is that while I understand that Golden was not ready to be an every down WR, I think they should have found more creative ways to get the ball in his hands. Not every play has to be conventional. I would have liked to see Golden get a few opportunities on screen passes, an occasional reverse, etc. I will be very interested to see how Golden develops this offseason. I love his fire and competitiveness so I am quite hopeful about his future.

As with many other positions, 2007 was a year of struggle and growth for the Irish receiving corps. I believe the coaches learned that they have a #1 horse in Duval, they have a burner in Golden, they have a guy with possession potential in Parris, and they have some smaller, quicker guys who can contribute also in David and George. Piecing that together and figuring out where the incoming recruits will slot will be a lot of fun through the spring and fall camp. I will say this, I expect at least 1 of the incoming freshman WRs, in my opinion most likely Mike Floyd, to see a lot of playing time next year, though not necessarily as a starter. It should be fun. Your thoughts????

Next Up: Tight End


Ted said...

Enjoyed your wide receiver 2007 review. Couldn't help but wonder what it would do for depth if the Irish land either of the other two receivers they are recruiting...one 5-star and one 4-star if memory serves me correctly.

Face Mask said...

I'm a running game guy."When you pass the football 3 things can happen,2 of them ain't good."Woody Hays.